Wichelstowe is a residential development and urban extension on the southern edge of the town of Swindon in South West England, constructed from 2006. Located north of the M4 motorway between junction 16 and Croft Road, Wichelstowe has three neighbourhoods: East, Middle and West Wichel. The development will comprise up to 4500 homes, employment space, public open space, shopping, community facilities for residents and various schools. In 2014 it was described as the country's largest housing project on public-owned land.
The medieval history of the site is reflected in the name: Wichel is the original name of the area as recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086, and stowe is an Old English word meaning "meeting place".
In 1995 the first proposals for the site were put forward for consideration by Wiltshire County Council as structure planning authority. The following year, the first public proposal for the site considered a comprehensive development to help meet Swindon's housing needs up to 2011.
In 2001 Front Garden Action Group (FRAG) and Bloor Homes launched an unsuccessful High Court challenge against the Structure Plan and the green light was effectively given for Wichelstowe to go ahead. An extensive programme of public consultation was undertaken on the proposals by Taylor Woodrow and an outline planning application submitted in 2002. Infrastructure works commenced on site in 2006. The first home occupations in East Wichel took place in 2009.
Wichelstowe began as a collaboration between Swindon Borough Council and Taylor Wimpey to jointly provide and finance infrastructure. This agreement was re-shaped in the early part of 2009 into a new co-operation agreement; both parties now operate independently but in a mutually supportive way to develop the site. Taylor Wimpey continues with its responsibility to develop East Wichel, with Swindon Borough Council responsible for Middle and West Wichel.
East Wichel, the eastern quarter, is owned by Taylor Wimpey who operate independently with support from Swindon Borough Council. 830 homes are due for completion in this area of the development, and all development is expected to be finished by 2016.
- Work on East Wichel commenced in 2008.
- Construction was by Taylor Wimpey, Barratt, David Wilson Homes, Persimmon plc, and Bloor Homes.
- The first home in East Wichel was occupied in April 2009.
- East Wichel Community Primary School opened in July 2011.
- A Marston's pub/restaurant called The Bayberry opened in 2012.
Middle and West Wichel
All development land in this area is currently owned by Swindon Borough Council. The council will form an equal joint venture partnership with a successful bidder for the residential development of 3600 homes, 12 hectares of employment land and a new District Centre, after a bidder is chosen in 2014.
- Waitrose, situated in Middle Wichel, opened its doors to the public in April 2014 after a 20-year wait for the right location to set up in Swindon. The store could provide an estimated 230 jobs in the area. A proportion of the population of water voles on site were rehomed in the River Meon in Hampshire. It is expected that once canal-side works are finished, nearby water voles will recolonise the stretch of canal, leaving no long-term impact here.
- Revisions to the original Wichelstowe plans were made by Swindon Borough Council, to retain an increased number of hedgerows, mature trees and landscape contours. Re-alignment of proposed Croft Road/Hay Lane link road to bring more vitality to the planned District Centre and reduce traffic headed to Wroughton. Change to the trigger point for certain infrastructure and an emphasis on walkable neighbourhoods; ensuring facilities can be reached on foot from all directions. The commitment to large areas of green public open space is retained.
- One kilometre of newly restored or new canal was completed in East Wichel, one of the longest sections of canal built anywhere in England in recent years. The project, in cooperation with the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust, received a commendation in the Partnership category and runner-up in Masterplanning in the Waterways Renaissance Awards.
- Before the opening of the new roads there were complaints about Swindon Borough Council leaving lights on while the site was uninhabitated, while on the other hand supposedly saving money by switching off lights on other main roads in Swindon.
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- "The Bayberry pub scheduled to open on 14 May 2012". East Wichel News. Retrieved 1 January 2017.
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- Cross, Beren (10 April 2014). "Waitrose opens its doors to shoppers in Wichelstowe". Swindon Advertiser. Retrieved 1 January 2017.
- "Swindon water voles to be released in Hampshire river". BBC News. 25 April 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2014.
- Lidiard, Emma (24 August 2013). "Have your say on Wichelstowe plans". Thisiswiltshire.co.uk. Retrieved 1 January 2017.
- "Waterside Living comes to Swindon with homes in New Canal Village". Wilts & Berks Canal Trust. 10 April 2011. Archived from the original on 17 July 2011. Retrieved 1 January 2017.
- Bond, Katie (2 June 2011). "Canalside homes at Wichelstowe in Swindon go on show". Swindon Advertiser. Retrieved 1 January 2017.
- "Empty Wichelstowe housing plots lit by taxpayers". Link Magazine. 1 November 2011. Retrieved 29 January 2012.